the day the music died by DB Cox

i’ve sat through
wagner’s “tristan & isolde”
i’ve heard schoenberg
try to out-wagner wagner
in “transfigured night”
i’ve listened to webern’s
“symphony for chamber orchestra”
in which sound
is pulverized
into luminous dust—
one enlightening evening
i watched john cage
cram enough junk into
the back of a grand piano
to make a pontiac bonneville
just so he could explore
the outer frontiers
of musical pointlessness
but my symphony tickets
went on ebay
the night a well-dressed
piano soloist
walked on stage & executed
a piece entitled 4’ 33”

the audience
watched & waited
as the virtuoso
sat silently
at the keyboard
for 4 minutes & 33 seconds
then stood up
bowed & departed
creating the first ever
musical vacuum
in the local concert hall

leaving me wondering—
if a concert pianist
is seated at a steinway
in the middle of a forest
& a giant oak tree
crashes down
on his hollow crown
does it make a sound?
& if it does
could you
would you
have the balls
to call it music?

–Poet’s Bio

12 Responses to “the day the music died by DB Cox”

  1. Carter Monroe Says:

    Enjoyed this immensely.

  2. What’s the old jass head’s saying? “You have to listen to the notes they’re not playing.” Looked at in that light 4′ 33″ is essentially Metal Machine Music. Great rumination as always sir.

  3. I’m applauding even if you can’t hear me. Fantastic poem, db.

  4. rock on…

  5. excellent poem.

  6. yeah! music lovers

  7. Me and Maria Callas loved this — Wondeful

  8. Always enjoy good blues! I can’t quite get poetry anymore and never listened to Cage much, but I also enjoy physics and there is a theory for his noise becoming music somewhere in a larger ear I suppose. Meanwile his purpose seems logical… to make every note democratic. That is a flaw to me since I never knew art to be democratic even though our National Endowment tries to force it into a political mold. Charles Plymell

  9. Yes democracy. Every note of equal importance. Like Schoenberg who threw out tonality altogether with his 12-tone row which gave equal importance to all 12 tones in the chromatic scale. A little like playing a very complicated board game without the entertainment value.

    I suppose the last person you should ask about poetry is someone who considers him or herself to be one.

    Someone once commented about Whitman: “He wanted to embrace the whole country, and was only egged on by the fact that he couldn’t get his arms around it.”

    Thank you Charles for the thoughtful comments.

    Blues Power! DB Cox

  10. “Without the entertainment value” – almost made me cry – I wrote a “chamber opera” libretto based on a 1act play (mine, too) and am now in the giddy position of hearing the music composed for it – it’s the right music for this piece but as my husband keeps saying, it’s also the kind of music I wouldn’t pay the price of a ticket to hear except that it’s mine ….

  11. Well Angela, maybe, sometimes, enlightenment is more important than entertainment.

  12. Almost like “the truth (may) set you free” – the beauty and the art bringing those 2 “en”s together .

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